The Philosophy Department’s strong orientation to a rich range of disciplinary areas in combination with particular strengths in bioethics, critical social and political philosophy, environmental philosophy, socially engaged philosophy of science (SEPOS), and interdisciplinary connections across the university makes this one of the most distinctive and most interesting philosophy departments in the country, one in which scholars with solid disciplinary knowledge and training make contributions to the discipline and address pressing public issues. The Department’s distinctive brand is “Engaged Philosophy”, which is a practice of philosophy that uses philosophical methods, resources, and elements of traditional areas of philosophy to help address practical issues of concern to society at large and to disciplines outside of philosophy. We believe that philosophy matters – that philosophy makes a difference in the lives of those who pursue it in teaching, reading, writing, and speaking. We provide our students with the intellectual resources needed to become critically engaged scholars and citizens with the ability to make social, political, and moral judgements. Our program is known for its close mentoring relationships between graduate students and faculty, a faculty committed to teaching and research excellence, and supportive rather than competitive relationships among graduate students.

We have several internal awards and fellowship competititions in the department. Check this page here. In addition, in recent years several graduate students received prestigious external awards.

  • Gregory Rogel has been named a Sadler Scholar at The Hastings Center; you can find more information here. Also check this this article on Greg’s research and background.
  • Jessica Martínez-Cruz won an American Association of University Women (AAUW) International Fellowship 2022). From the award description: “Recipients are selected for academic achievement and demonstrated commitment to women and girls. Recipients return to their home countries to become leaders in business, government, academia, community activism, the arts or scientific fields.”
  • Ashley Krieger (2023), Reese Haller (2022), Gabi Bussell (2022), and Gregory Rogel (2018) received Distinguished University Fellowships. MSU has around 10,000 graduate students and only gives out 40 of these awards annually. The award process is highly competitive.
  • Taylor Mills was honored with the 2024 MSU Outreach and Engagement Award for Community-Engaged Teaching and Learning. In addition to this prestigious award, Taylor was selected for MSU’s Urban Community Engagement Fellows Program (UCEF), a joint initiative of Michigan State University’s Graduate School and the Office of University Outreach and Engagement. Taylor also passed the Michigan Bar Exam to become a licensed attorney. Her dedication to law studies was further recognized when she received the Woman Lawyers of Michigan Foundation Award for Outstanding Female Law Student. Furthermore, Taylor was awarded the prestigious American Bar Association’s LGBT Public Interest Scholarship. Read the full story here.
  • Nic Cottone has won the 2024 Varg Sullivan Award for her paper “Addressing the ‘Puzzle’ of Gray Area Sexual Violations” which has been published in Hypatia in volume 38, issue 2.  Each year, the College of Arts & Letters presents two Varg-Sullivan Endowed Graduate Awards to graduate students for their outstanding achievement in the arts or letters. Paul Varg and Richard Sullivan are former Deans of the College of Arts & Letters who dedicated their professional lives to excellence in the college. This award endowment was established in their name. Recipients are selected based on best performance or exhibition at a national or international event in the arts and best presentation at a national or international event or best-published article in the letters. Read the full story here.

Current faculty areas can be found here. Recent seminar offerings can be found here. In addition, MSU offers wide ranging opportunities for interdisciplinary work, specializations, and concentrations. A list of specializations can be found here. Information about how to apply and the admissions process and requirements can be found here.

Contact the Director of the Graduate Program, Prof. Christian Lotz (lotz@msu.edu), for inquiries related to our graduate program.

PhD Program strengths


Bioethics & Philosophy of Medicine

Medicine is governed to a large extent by health policies created in legislative bodies.  That raises issues relevant to social and political philosophy, such as liberty, equity, and justice in relation to meeting health care needs.


Socially Engaged Philosophy of Science

Socially Engaged Philosophy of Science (SEPOS) tries to understand the role science plays in contemporary society. We use tools from the philosophy of science to understand both descriptive and normative aspects of science…



Social & Political Thought

Our graduate program has a strong focus in social and political thought, especially Critical Theory (broadly construed), Feminist Philosophy, Modern Philosophy, 19th and 20th Century Continental, and Contemporary Political Philosophy…


Environmental Philosophy & Ethics

Our program offers the opportunity for advanced study, research and engagement in environmental philosophy and ethics, for students enrolled both in the Department of Philosophy and other doctoral programs at MSU….

Take Courses In

Critical Theory

Feminist Philosophy 

Food Ethics

Science and Democracy

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